10 Things We Learned from MLS Week 19
With a slate of four midweek matches, Major League Soccer fans had plenty to watch on Wednesday night.
Sporting Kansas City went top of the table in the Eastern Conference with a late win, while the Philadelphia Union took three points off the New York Red Bulls. In the all-Canada battle, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC split the points and finally, in the late game, the LA Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution.
Here are 10 things we learned from the action in MLS Week 19.
Conor Casey Took Advantage of the Rookie
Conor Casey, a long-time MLS veteran, scored a beauty of a goal on Wednesday night in the Philadelphia Union’s 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.
In the first half, Casey took down a pass with a good first touch and beat 18-year-old Red Bull defender Matt Miazga before depositing the ball in the back of New York’s net with a left-footed strike.
It was Casey’s sixth goal in six games.
Is Matt Besler Staying?
After a stellar World Cup with the United States men's national team, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler has reportedly been the subject of numerous transfer offers and MLSsoccer.com's Greg Seltzer has reported that Besler's decision will be made by Monday.
MLSSoccer.com's Ben Jata also reported on Wednesday that Besler has not yet decided whether or not to leave MLS.
On Wednesday, Besler started for Sporting in their 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew. If a decision had been made on a transfer, it seems likely that Kansas City would not have played Besler, not wanting to risk an injury.
Aurelien Collin’s Red-Card Suspension Should Be Rescinded
Early in the second half of Sporting’s match against the Crew, Aurelien Collin went up for a challenge. Innocuously, Collin’s arm extended across the face of Crew forward Adam Bedell.
Although Bedell did end up with a bloody nose and Collin’s arm was up, the challenge was neither violent nor intentional. In fact, the play wasn’t even originally called a foul.
But, when play was stopped for Bedell’s injury, Collin was promptly given his marching orders—one of many, many poor officiating decisions in the match.
The game changed immediately as Sporting, which had been clearly dominating the match, was forced into a shell for much of the second half and eventually conceded a goal.
Sporting was able to eventually pull out the victory, due to a late goal from Benny Feilhaber, but Collin should not be forced to endure any further punishment for a play that shouldn’t have been a red card in the first place.
Benny Feilhaber Hit a Beauty
After dominating the first half, Sporting KC went into the locker room at halftime against the Columbus Crew leading 1-0. However, a red card to Aurelien Collin early in the second half changed things quickly and the Crew was eventually able to equalize.
Late in the match, Crew midfielder Wil Trapp picked up a second yellow card and made the match 10 v. 10.
Then, in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, Sporting's Benny Feilhaber helped Kansas City steal the win, smashing a shot from just outside the 18 off the crossbar and in.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry Are a Special Combination
Although the New York Red Bulls lost to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, the fantastic combination play of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry was again on display as Henry assisted Wright-Phillips' goal.
Wright-Phillips currently leads the league with 16 goals while Henry currently leads the league with 10 assists.
Vancouver and Toronto Picked Up Important Points
Despite the fact that they drew 1-1, the point picked up by both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC should help each as they battle for playoff positions.
In the Eastern Conference, Toronto is in third place, but only seven points separate third through ninth place with seven teams likely fighting for four playoff places.
In the Western Conference, Vancouver is in sixth place, but, amazingly, only two points separate sixth place from second place. The point earned by Vancouver on the road Wednesday night could prove invaluable by the end of the season.
Parity is alive and well in MLS.
Gyasi Zardes Is Raw, but Getting There
A highly touted rookie in 2013 after a standout collegiate career at CSU-Bakersfield, Gyasi Zardes struggled in his rookie campaign to get acclimated to MLS. Often, his touch wasn't clean enough and he finished with four goals in 23 matches.
However, in 2014, Zardes is beginning to find his footing and knocked in two goals on Wednesday night in the LA Galaxy's 5-1 win over the New Engand Revolution. He now has six goals in eight games this season.
New England Is Self-Destructing
With their 5-1 loss to the Galaxy on Wednesday, the New England Revolution have now lost six straight games and have not picked up a point since late May.
Although their early-season wins still have them sitting in fourth place, in the tight Eastern Conference, only five points separate fourth place from ninth place..
They need to get things back on track—and quickly.
The LA Galaxy Are Hitting Their Stride
In contrast to the recent failings of the New England Revolution, the LA Galaxy are hitting form at the perfect time.
The Galaxy have picked up points in their last eight matches and have not lost since mid-May.
MLS Is Lucky to Have Robbie Keane
Since entering the league three years ago, Robbie Keane has been an absolute joy to watch. Not only can he bang in goals—he scored twice in the Galaxy's win over the Revolution on Wednesday—but his movement and passing in the attacking third (he also picked up two assists on Wednesday) are absolutely world class.
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